A puppy was used to lure two Amish girls into a car in upstate New York, with the captors plotting to enslave the sisters authorities said.
Nicole Vaisey, 15 told investigators that she and her boyfriend Stephen Howells II, 39 were on a “shopping trip” for “slaves” when they allegedly kidnapped the girls, according to a detective.
The girls were picked up at a vegetable stand outside the sisters’ family farm about 50 miles from the Canadian border on August 13.
New details about the abduction in Oswegatchie emerged during a preliminary hearing in St. Lawrence County on Thursday. Detective Sgt. Brooks Bigwarfe detailed the couple’s alleged plan and kidnapping of the girls, as related to him by Vaisey.
“They had been planning this for several weeks,” Bigwarge said. Howells and Vaisey drove to the farm, pulled up to the stand in a location where they couldn’t be seen, and waited for the girls –ages 6 and 12 – to approach the car, Bigwarfe said. Howells allegedly scoped out the stand the previous week.
Howells asked the girls whether they wanted to pet the dog, a Doberman pinscher-golden retriever mix named Kaleidoscope, police said. When the older sister grew suspicious, Bigwarfe said, Howellls pushed the girls into the back of the car.
“When he started forcing them into the vehicle, they both started screaming and yelling.” Bigwarfe said.
The girls were held captive for nearly 24 hours, during which they were handcuffed together, shackled to a bed and sexually abused, according to the sheriff’s department.
Both Howells and Bigwarfe became frightened at news reports of the abduction and released the girls a day later. The new details emerged at a preliminary court hearing last Thursday, Wells said.
Their abduction sparked a sweeping search of the area, hindered by the fact the family had no photographs of the girls. The girls were released near a stranger’s house about 30 miles from their vegetable stand before their abductors fled.
Both Howells and Vaisey are in jail on two counts each of first-degree kidnapping. Mary Rain, the county’s district attorney, said during the weekend that the children were sexually abused. Wells declined to comment on the allegation.
At Thursday’s hearing, a lawyer for Vaisey told the court she was less culpable because she was in a “master-slave relationship” with Howells, the New York Times reported.